Sometimes it feels as though there is a permanent art bonanza taking place in our home. The shelves are cluttered with paints, crayons, indoor chalk, outdoor chalk, paper, crêpe paper, colouring books, glue, markers, stickers etc. You get the picture! Paintings and drawings are proudly displayed on the dining room walls. Patio stones are coloured in vibrant colours with chalk. Our weekend mornings usually consists of fresh pots of coffee and doodling.
The kids have a serious addiction to all things involving arts and crafts. They didn’t get it from the side of the road either. Art is in the family. Their grandmothers are artists. I grew up surrounded by canvases, oils, gouache paints, charcoals, pencils, erasers, paper. All these things bear memories for me – the smell of freshly pared pencil shavings, the shape and feel of my mother’s special erasure, the rubbery sensation of dried oil paints on pallets, piled high on wobbly tables, the somewhat pleasant smell of turpentine. I loved going into my mother’s studio and snooping through the old photographs, catalogues and notebooks. Sometimes I left feeling overwhelmed as I did not always understand the personal topics of her work at my young age. Most of the time I left feeling like I had gotten to know more about her. When I was a teenager, my mother started an art school, which became very successful. There was a flow of people through the house day and night. Her studio was expanded and a dark room was built. I loved the quiet intimate darkness in there and loved watching my mother dipping and dunking negatives. I can still remember the smells of the chemicals. There was also this massive old school printing press. That was a hit with everyone. Classes were held for children and I thought I had the coolest mum. Sometimes I even sat as a model for her drawing classes. I think I grew to love classical music from this because it was always played in the background.
My mother is building a new studio at her home in the countryside and in a way I am jealous that my girls will be able to explore this. Hopefully they will have as many memories of their grandmother, as I do of my mother. Although my children do not get to visit my mother’s studio as often as I did as a child, I think it is important to help them develop an appreciation and love for art. Kids love getting messy and exploring with colours and textures. It’s a great way to learn. Most of all, I love watching them develop new techniques.
Olwyn is now learning how to draw circles. She holds the pencil for dear life and scribbles, scribbles, scribbles. Markers are a no go with her as she has a tendency to suck the ink out of them! She points at all the paintings on the wall saying “Seren do that” or “Olwyn do that”. Other times she likes to make her own impromptu teething ring!
Seren, who is three and a half, loves drawing happy faces, dogs, lions and balloons. She sits happily at the table until every inch of paper is coloured in. It’s great to see her concentration and how seriously she takes it.
Give them some stickers, glue and child friendly scissors and there is beautiful silence for ten minutes. Other times we all sit around, chat and paint faces, which is always a good giggle.
Painting is always a hit. I like to give them different utensils to use on the paint for texture but inevitably the fingers usually win out. This day usually leads to a good soaking in the bathtub.
We often visit the National Art Gallery with the children. They are still a bit too young to parade them through the entire gallery, but there is an excellent space for children to draw pictures. Here we all sit happily for an hour, the girls scribbling to their hearts’ content. Daddy usually has a cat nap because it is so warm from the sun light flooding in. In another year Seren will be able to take part in the art classes that are held here. It teaches young children how to read the paintings in the gallery.
I am an academic at heart, not having tapped into the artist in me when younger, and our home is crammed with books and words. My children love books but I want to pass on to them some of my experiences I had with art as a child. Although I don’t have a studio, I can try to keep painting and drawing alive, and nurture in them a love for all things creative.
Do you encourage your children to be creative? Is it important for you to have art in your children’s lives?